Top Uganda Journalist Arrested
The raid comes a week before World Press Freedom Day, May 3. It also comes as several journalists at Daily and Sunday Monitor, and The Weekly Observer have cases pending in court. All the cases â€“ ranging from promotion of sectarianism to sedition â€“ are related to their work as journalists.
[Africa News Update: Uganda Attacks On Media]
Kampala, Uganda, April 21----In yet another attack on freedom of the press, agents from military intelligence and the police yesterday arrested Mr. Andrew Mwenda, the managing editor of the bi-monthly Independent newsmagazine.
Others taken were Consulting Editor Odoobo Bichachi and reporter John Njoroge. The mid-morning operation also saw Sunday Monitor photojournalist Joseph Kiggundu handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and driven away.
He had been taking pictures at the newsmagazine offices on Plot 86, Kanjokya Street in Kampala.
“Mwenda and Bichachi, you are under arrest; we are going to CID headquarters,” said Mr. Charles Kataratambi, the head of the Media and Political Desk at the Criminal Investigations Directorate headquarters.
The security operatives took away three computers, four diskettes, one micro-cassette tape and several assorted documents.
The raid comes a week before World Press Freedom Day, May 3. It also comes as several journalists at Daily and Sunday Monitor, and The Weekly Observer have cases pending in court. All the cases – ranging from promotion of sectarianism to sedition – are related to their work as journalists.
Yesterday’s operation started at about 9:30 a.m. at Mr. Mwenda’s home in Kololo, a residential area in Kampala.
Said Mr. Mwenda: “I was driving out of my home when another car came from in front heading direct into my car. I stopped thinking the fellow was crazy. I reversed my car only to knock another one behind. Before I could know what was happening, I was already sandwiched by five cars.”
Operatives then jumped out of their cars and bundled the journalist into a waiting car. They handcuffed him and drove him towards Kololo Airstrip. They then turned back to his house.
“They searched everything in my house,” Mr. Mwenda said. “All this was done when I was in handcuffs. Kataratambi came and took over the operation and removed the handcuffs.”
Meanwhile at The Independent offices, all the workers had been locked inside and those who had not arrived were denied entry.
Operatives searched the offices in the presence of Mr. Bichachi. The search warrant indicated the detectives wanted any seditious material they could find.
Later Mr. Kataratambi arrived at the offices with Mr. Mwenda.
After getting some documents, Mr. Kataratambi ordered that the computers used by Mr. Bichachi, Mr. Mwenda and Mr. Njoroge be taken to CID headquarters.
At CID headquarters, Mr. Kataratambi informed Mr. Mwenda that he had published seditious and defamatory material in The Independent.
“Mr. Njoroge, we want to know your dealings with Masaba and your contribution to those stories,” Mr. Kataratambi said. “The same story with Bichachi; we want to establish the people you have been in contact with.”
Mr. Godfrey Masaba, an army deserter, was the source of a recent story in The Independent that recounted alleged UPDF atrocities in northern Uganda as it battled the LRA rebels.
Lawyer Bob Kasango was with the journalists. Sunday Monitor’s Kiggundu was released after several hours. Mr. Bichachi and Mr. Mwenda were released at 4.00 p.m. after being charged with sedition and publishing defamatory material. They return to CID on Monday.
(Source: Uganda Daily Monitor
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